Diet Nutrition

How to eat healthier and cheaper without cutting out takeaways

Expert advice on cleaning up your diet without spending a fortune or forgoing treats.

1. Give it some healthy flavour

“I use smoked paprika and cumin together whenever I’m cooking a vegetarian meal, as they add a huge amount of flavour.”
– Cookbook author
Callum Hann

“My favourite flavour combo is pairing healthy fats with acidic foods – so avocado and lime juice. It’s a classic combo that just works.”
– Dietitian and cookbook author
Themis Chryssidis

2. Get smart with takeaways

“Firstly, make a sensible choice. Thai and Mexican are often good as they are vegetable-rich and use healthier cooking techniques such as braising, grilling and poaching. Secondly, always add extra vegetables. They’re low in kilojoules, high in fibre and help reduce the overall energy content of a meal, while increasing satisfaction.”

  • – Themis Chryssidis*

“I always ask for steamed instead of fried rice. It’s a saving of 622kJ and 13g of fat per cup! Little tweaks like that add up over the years.”
– Dietitian
Melanie McGrice

3. Reduce the salt

“I love the hot stuff – anything from horseradish and wasabi, to Cholula Hot Sauce and crispy chilli oil to have with Chinese dumplings. With a bit of heat on board, you need less salt to deliver a big flavour hit.”
– Dietitian
Emma Stirling

Substitute salt for a little fish sauce.
“That reduces a meal’s sodium chloride content by 10 to 25 per cent, while still maintaining perceived deliciousness, saltiness and overall flavour intensity.”
– Chef, cookbook author and food scientist
Robert Danhi

4. Make expensive ingredients stretch

“The most common expensive ingredient people put in their shopping baskets each week is meat! It’s largely due to the way we eat it, serving it as the main component of a meal."

"Start looking to other cuisines where meat is included as part, rather than the star of a meal, whether it’s a Thai curry, a Mexican recipe with some beans stirred through, or a slow-cooked Moroccan dish full of vegetables.”
– Callum Hann

5. Up your vege intake

“Cook vegetables al dente and mix things up with flavour toppings and additions. My table is always full of dishes featuring different veges and aromatic combos: green beans, lemon and roasted pine nuts; summer tomato and torn basil leaves with balsamic vinaigrette; chargrilled courgette with fresh mint and crumbled feta.”
– Emma Stirling

“Vegetables take on other flavours really well, so use herbs, spices and aromatics like ginger, garlic and lemongrass. Most recipes err on the side of a light hand with these ingredients, so to make things more interesting, I’ll use the whole bunch of a soft herb and double the spice quantity suggested.”
– Callum Hann

6. Hold back on the sweets

“I’ll often use spices that the brain associates with sugary foods, such as vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, to add flavour and perceived sweetness. This helps reduce the amount of sugar you have to use.”
– Themis Chryssidis

Pick a light-coloured plate to serve a dessert on, and use less sugar when you’re making it.
“When strawberry mousse is served from a white plate, rather than a darker one, its flavour is perceived as being significantly more intense and sweeter.”
– Sensory researcher
Betina Piqueras-Fiszman

Words: Karen Fittall

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